Benefit investigators working for a Government contractor accused a Hove woman of having a lesbian relationship with her own sister in a misguided attempt to prove she was claiming tax credits fraudulently, parliament heard today.
The upsetting blunder was detailed by Hove MP Peter Kyle during an opposition debate into the failings of Concentrix, which currently handles tax credits administration.
Shadow treasury minister Rebecca Long-Bailey called on the Government to apologise for the “distress and hardship” caused by a catalogue of blunders and heavy handed treatment of claimants.
Mr Kyle said: “I was contacted not so long ago by a woman in a similar situation. She had been accused of Concentrix – she had had her tax credits cut because they accused her of having a lesbian relationship with her sister.
“And it took her coming to her member of parliament and myself calling Concentrix myself before they started believing the truth.
“Isn’t it absurd that it takes a direct intervention from a member of parliament before this ridiculous company takes these people seriously.”
Ms Long-Bailey replied: “The term it beggars belief springs to mind and unfortunately this case is not an isolated one.”
Brighton and Hove News understands the accusation came after the constituent moved into a home previously occupied by her sister but Concentrix wouldn’t accept they weren’t lovers.
Minister Jane Ellison agreed Concentrix’s performance “fell below the standard required” but added the firm did deliver “millions of pounds of savings” for taxpayers.
She confirms that payments to the company will be cut as a result of failings and its contract will not be renewed beyond May 2017.
In addition, the government will not look to employ another private firm to perform tax credit checks “at this time” and HMRC is in negotiations with Concentrix on an “early exit” from the contract.
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